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Communications of the ACM

Letters to the editor

Keep the ACM Code of Ethics As It Is

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The proposed changes to the ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct, as discussed by Don Gotterbarn et al. in "ACM Code of Ethics: A Guide for Positive Action"1 (Digital Edition, Jan. 2018), are generally misguided and should be rejected by the ACM membership. The changes attempt to, for example, create real obligations on members to enforce hiring quotas/priorities with debatable efficacy while ACM members are neither HR specialists nor psychologists; create "safe spaces for all people," a counterproductive concept causing problems in a number of universities; counter harassment while not being lawyers or police officers; enforce privacy while not being lawyers; ensure "the public good" while not being elected leaders; encourage acceptance of "social responsibilities" while not defining them or being elected leaders or those charged with implementing government policy; and monitor computer systems integrated into society for "fair access" while not being lawyers or part of the C-suite.

ACM is a computing society, not a society of activists for social justice, community organizers, lawyers, police officers, or MBAs. The proposed changes add nothing related specifically to computing and far too much related to these other fields, and also fail to address, in any significant new way, probably the greatest ethical hole in computing today—security and hacking.


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